Distributed leadership in elementary
EVERY high- quality public school bears in their heart great leadership. It is realized that when leadership within schools is distributed among a team of individuals with different skillsets and experiences but a shared mission to spark and sustain a school-wide culture of learning and improved outcomes for students, leadership is most effective.
A positive change throughout the school can be expected with these types of instructional leadership teams. Is leadership being distributed in your school? What does it mean for your school? What are measured and achieved when leadership is distributed in school?
Distributed leadership often takes the form of an instructional leadership team within school. This team represents the larger school community, and each team member is involved because of their content and pedagogical expertise rather than their years of experience or formal leadership role in the school.
Distributed leadership teams take on several important tasks in a school: supporting the development of highquality teaching by leading content-specific, grade- level collaborative time; engaging teachers in cycles of observation, feedback, and reflection to adapt and refine their instruction to meet their students’ needs; teaching and modeling how to apply a continuous improvement mindset to teaching, learning, and leading; tracking and monitoring student level data to ensure school- wide student progress; and, providing other relevant job-embedded professional learning supports.
Principals and assistant principals are critical to enabling and sustaining the work of distributed leadership teams. They do this by building the leadership capacity in the school and by creating the conditions where expertise can be spread across the school so that everyone can work individually and collectively to improve outcomes for students.
Distributed leadership is not about dividing tasks and responsibilities among individuals. Instead, distributed leadership is concerned with the interactions among individuals (leaders and those whom they lead) to drive instructional improvement and improved student outcomes through the development of high-quality teaching and a culture where all students can thrive.
It can be realized that from hundreds of examples nationwide that extraordinary student outcomes are possible at the individual school level. These persistent rays of hope shine through even in the most challenging of educational environments.
Breakthrough results in student achievement occur when the significant challenges our students face are met with an even greater level of teacher talent and dedication—when talented individuals work together to do extraordinary things. Yet we also know that these kinds of schools don’t develop randomly on their own; an essential ingredient behind each of these success stories is transformational leadership.
The opportunity is clear, this transformational leadership, or this leadership that can make our world a far better place for our children can be highly sustained with distributed leadership for one. We need to commit to models of “distributed leadership” in our schools that establish a cadre of talented educators in each building who have end-to-end responsibility for the development of the teachers on their teams.
A growing number of schools are stepping up to the challenge and we’ve identified a set of best practices that are starting to succeed in the real world. Our most successful systems are on a path to develop more transformational leaders.
The next step is to put them in distributed leadership models that will enable them to move farther and faster to transform their schools. ( Paid article)